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   Nancy Wechsler papers, 1935-2007.

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Nancy Wechsler Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

The Nancy Wechsler Papers collects a portion of the work and interests of lawyer Nancy Wechsler. The collection holds her writings, work with professional organizations, correspondence, and work with several government organizations including accusations pertaining to her loyalty while doing this work. Of particular note are the oral histories Wechsler gave and the memoir she wrote detailing her family's history, Communist experience, legal work, and public affairs. The oral histories and memoir also cover her civil rights work and work as a copyright and intellectual property lawyer. The collection also contains Wechsler's FOIA file.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1676
Bib ID:10391992 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Wechsler, Nancy.
Title:Nancy Wechsler papers, 1935-2007.
Physical description:3 linear ft. (4 document boxes, 1 flat box)
Language(s): Material is in English.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. Some files are closed due to privacy and confidentiality issues.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

Material is arranged into 8 series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The Nancy Wechsler Papers collects a portion of the work and interests of lawyer Nancy Wechsler. The collection holds her writings, work with professional organizations, correspondence, and work with several government organizations including accusations pertaining to her loyalty while doing this work. Of particular note are the oral histories Wechsler gave and the memoir she wrote detailing her family's history, Communist experience, legal work, and public affairs. The oral histories and memoir also cover her civil rights work and work as a copyright and intellectual property lawyer. The collection also contains Wechsler's FOIA file.

Series I: Columbia Law School, 1937-1965

Series I: Columbia Law Schoolcontains some of the notes and collected items from Nancy Wechsler's time studying at Columbia's Law School.

Series II: Government Work, 1942-1959

>Series II: Government Work contains the notes and research Wechsler used at different government posts, in particular the Office of Price Administration and the President's Committee on Civil Rights. Also within this series are some of the documents pertaining to Wechsler's questioned loyalty while working for the federal government.

Series III: Professional Organizations, 1972-1997

Series III: Professional Organizations contains accumulated documents from Wechsler's involvement with professional groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Law Institute.

Series IV: Correspondence, 1969-1997

Series IV: Correspondence contains primarily personal correspondence of Wechsler's.

Series V: Writings, 1940-2007

Series V: Writings contains Wechsler's memoir accounting her family, life, and work. The series contains Wechsler's articles on the law, teenage sexuality, abortions, and censorship and obscenity. This series also contains drafts of In A Darkness , an account of the life and suicide of Nancy's son Michael, co-written by Nancy and her husband James.

Series VI: Subject Files, 1935-2001

Series IV: Subject Files contains the FOIA files on Wechsler obtained from the FBI. This series also contains Oral Histories Wechsler has given to Columbia University's Oral History department and some items of Ephemera.

Series VII: Legal Work

Series VII: Legal Work contains documents related to Wechsler's work in law including briefs, correspondence, and memorandum. Some of this series is closed due to privacy and confidentiality.

Series VIII: Oversized Documents

Series VIII: Oversized Documents is one oversized box holding the degrees and awards accumulated by Wechsler, particularly from Columbia's Law School.

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

Some files are closed due to privacy and confidentiality issues.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Nancy Wechsler Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed 2010 Craig P. Savino with assistance from Virginia Millington

Finding aid written 2010 Craig P. Savino

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion October 2, 2013 Finding aid written in English.
    2013-10-02 File created.

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Articles.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Drafts (documents).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manuscripts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Memorandums.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Notes, research.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poems.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Abortion--Law and Legislation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Censorship.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Civil rights--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Loyalty oaths.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Obscenity (Law)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
OccupationPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wages--Government PolicyPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wechsler, James, 1915-1983.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wechsler, Nancy, 1916-2009.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

History

Nancy F. Wechsler began her studies at Columbia's Law School in 1937, just 10 years after women were first admitted. She was awarded both a James Kent Scholarship and the John Ordroneaux Prize in recognition of her academic achievement and graduated in 1940. She went on to become one of the first women admitted to the New York State bar.

Wechsler worked for several federal agencies after graduating from Columbia. After spending some time with the Department of Labor's Office of Price Administration, in 1946 Wechsler became the counsel to President Truman's Committee on Civil Rights. Civil Liberties had long been a topic close to Wechsler as her father, Osmond K. Fraenkel, was a prominent member of the American Civil Liberties Union's general counsel for many years. Both would later serve together on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. While working for the government Wechsler faced accusations of Communist involvement and divided loyalty. She would later defend some cases of individuals accused of similar loyalty questions.

Wechsler later joined the firm of Greenbaum, Wolf & Ernst in 1948 where she built a career of cases involving libel, obscenity, and right of publicity for authors, publishers, and literary estates. Among her clients were Robert F. Kennedy and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

The firm also represented the Planned Parenthood Federation of America which involved Wechsler in cases involving contraception and abortion. She co-wrote amicus curiae briefs in the cases of Griswold v. Connecticut (wherein the Supreme Court recognized a right to privacy in striking down a law that banned the prescription or sale of contraceptives) and Roe v.Wade. These opinions are reflected primarily in the histories/memoirs and articles by Wechsler in the collection.

Nancy Wechsler died in New York City after suffering a stroke in 2009. She was survived by a daughter and three grandchildren.

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